Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Northern Dynasty, Pebble Partnership, Former CEO Subpoenaed by Feds

A Canadian mining company, its Alaska subsidiary and the former CEO of that subsidiary have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s office for Alaska to produce documents in connection with a grand jury investigation apparently regarding the proposed Pebble mine.

Northern Dynasty Minerals, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, announced receipt of the subpoenas by the parent company, the Pebble Limited partnership in Anchorage, and former PLP CEO Tom Collier on its website, saying they intend to cooperate with the investigation.

Ron Thiessen, president and CEO of Northern Dynasty, said the grand jury investigation apparently involves previously disclosed recordings of private conversations regarding the proposed mine. Thiessen said that Northern Dynasty is not aware of any charges filed against any entity or individual in this matter. Thiessen said that Northern Dynasty will provide updates on the investigation in its periodic and interim filings and releases as necessary and appropriate. The company provided no further details on the matter.

Controversy over the proposed copper, gold and molybdenum mine has been ongoing for decades. Northern Dynasty has been working for several years to get to the point of permitting. The mine site is adjacent to the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska, home to the world’s largest run of millions of wild sockeye salmon. The company contends that the mine can be built and operated in a manner that will not adversely impact salmon habitat, a contention challenged by fishermen, biologists and several environmental entities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently declined to issue a critical water quality permit required for construction. Collier resigned in September after the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency, a private entity in Washington D.C., released online in September videotape recordings known as the “Pebble Tapes.” The tapes, which are still online, are a series of recorded conversations with Thiessen and Collier who thought they were having private discussions with potential investors in the mine.

The tapes revealed plans to build a long-term mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, plus plans to expand the mine plan to open up other large areas of western Alaska, with the mine life expanded to 180 to 200 years. The recorded conversations include statements from Thiessen and Collier that contradict previous public statements by company executives on plans for Pebble to be a 20 year mine, as described in the company’s application for a Clean Water permit.

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